Tag: 120mm

How I started with a Mamiya C330s and some Ektar 100, then ended up with lomo pictures

Okay, so my intentions were good. Armed with my trusty Mamiya C330s and a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 film, I wanted to try and dome some realistic photography for once (realistic as in non-lomographic).

What I ended up with was… well, quite the opposite. You can find the pictures here on the project page.

Holga, the hol-mighty!

Okay, so let’s ignore the bad pun that is the title of this post and focus on the main topic.

The Holga is a rite of passage, a must for every film photographer.

Like the Diana, the Holga is a plastic “toy camera”, with a meniscus lens. Unlike the Diana, there are several models of Holga according to what they have as features. Holgas were produced until not long ago by Universal Electronic, Ltd. of Hong Kong, under the guide of TM Lee, creator of the original Holga. Production switched hands in 2015, when another company got hold of the original Holga moulds and tools and kept producing this legendary icon of film photography.

The lens is a basic meniscus type lens, 60 mm, in plastic or glass (according to the model), with apertures of f/8 and f/11, switchable by the user. Focus is done by rotating the lens barrel, in a four-zone focus system: portrait, small group, large group and infinite. As with the Diana, the pictures show vignetting and other aberrations, including light leaks. Also, every Holga is slightly different, so that even in the same setting, two Holgas will never produce the same image.

This beauty has experience a rise in popularity thanks to the Lomography movement, who distributed the Holgas in their store (they stopped, at present). Holgas are still VERY easy to find on eBay, and there are several different models to choose from:

  • 120S: standard model, plastic lens, no frills, only one picture size. This has been discontinued for a long time but remains the favourite of many photographers.
  • 120SF: the standard model with a built-in flash.
  • 120G: called “Woca”, is a 120S with a glass lens
  • 120GF: a Woca with a built-in flash
  • 120N: the new standard model (I assume “N” stands for “New”), tripod mount, bulb mode and the possibility to change masks between 6×6 and 6×4.5. Models produced before 2009 (I believe) have a non-functioning aperture switch.
  • 120GN: a 120N with a glass lens (still named Holga)
  • 120FN: a 120N with a flash
  • 120GFN: mix the two above and you get a Holga with a glass lens and a built-in flash.
  • 120CFN: a 120FN with four built-in colour filters for the flash, selectable with a wheel
  • 120GCFN: Again, mix the two above and this is what you get. This is the model I own.

There are also some other models, including a TLR Holga, a pinhole, stereo pinhole, 110 film format Holga and so on and so forth.

There are also several accessories for the Holga, including a 35mm film adapter (which does not have an exposure count, so you have to advance the film manually and kind of guess when to stop), cable release and instant back.

Of course it’s not perfect, there are several issues with each model, mainly affecting the metal clips that both hold the back in place and allow you to attach your camera strap, the film advance mechanisms that tends to loosen the tension thus creating artifacts and light leaks. Most of these issues can be fixed with a roll of duct tape and patience.

I have to admit, I am happy of the results I got with the Holga, it’s a fun camera and has character. I feel I need to know it better so to more appreciate what makes it different from my Diana.

All the pictures above where shot with a Holga 120GCFN on a Lomography Color 400 ISO film.

Kodak Brownie n° 2

Now, we need a moment of attention for one of the most important cameras in history.

The Brownie has been the first inexpensive camera to introduce photography to the masses (well, sort of). It has been from the beginning a very simple box camera, initially using 117 film, then switching to the more popular 120 film (the very same that we still load in our Dianas, Holgas and Mamiyas). It was introduced in 1900 and has been produced, in one form or another, until 1986 (again, sort of – the Brownie introduced in 1986 was produced only in Brasil and was using 110 film, it looked more like an Instamatic).

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The Brownie n. 2

The model I have in my hands, the Brownie n° 2, was introduced in 1901 and was the first camera ever to use 120 mm format film. Lots of people still use the brownies, because of their dependability and their simplicity that allows one to focus on the photography rather than on the bell and whistles of the camera.

It is a very simple camera. A meniscus lens, projecting light into the box, hits the film mounted on the internal holding structure. Shutter is operated by a lever. There are three apertures available.

Here are some details:

  • approx. 100 mm lens
  • apertures f/11, f/16 and f/22
  • shutter speed: instant (1/50) and bulb

This camera gives its best in black and white photography, although any 120mm film can be used.

The structure of the camera itself is quite simple: there is an internal metallic film holder that slides out of the camera, in which you can put the film roll and the take up spool. A couple of metallic rotating pieces to make the film move without scratching it and that’s it. The rear panel is held in place by the leatherette itself, there are no hinges at all. Exposure counting is done via the classic red window on the back.

All in all, it’s a fun piece of equipment to play with and there’s plenty of good photography to be done. It is very similar to a toy camera, but for several reasons people  tend take this more seriously than a Diana or a Holga. Like these two plastic wonders, though, the Brownie allows to focus most of your attention into composition and proper technique rather than a thousand gizmos.

Verdict: everyone should play with a Brownie at least once.

Some pictures I took with the Brownie: no controls at all mean that most of my pictures came out totally white or totally black, here’s a couple that survived.